John Fogerty's "Centerfield" has a long annual season, starting each February with baseball's spring training. And with the World Series upon us, it's even more appropriate to roll out the latest live recording of his 1985 hit, from the upcoming 50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks live album and film, premiering exclusively below.
"I'm really happy about the life that song has had," Fogerty tells Billboard. "Back when I wrote it I liked it, but I probably thought I was really tempting the Fates to try and mix rock n' roll and baseball. I knew there had been other baseball songs over the years, and they really didn't become hits — except maybe 'Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)' by the Treniers. But I just said, 'By golly, I'll just do it anyway,' and it worked out."
Though he played "left out" as a youth, Fogerty, a San Francisco Bay Area native, has been a baseball fan from a young age, indoctrinated to root for the New York Yankees by his father and later becoming a San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's fan. "My dad would talk about this fabled (Yankees) team back east when Babe Ruth played — and I was so young I thought he was still playing," Fogerty recalls. "It was just this mystical, magical thing I kind of adopted, and then I eventually got my own teams to root for."
As for this year's World Series, Fogerty has been a fan of the Houston Astros — now down 2-0 to the Washington Nationals — since before the team won the championship two years ago. But now, he says, "I’m not really even sure who I'm for. Both of those teams are very good. I watched (Game One) and it was everything I expected, really."
The World Series aside, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is set up for a busy November that will include a number of high-profile events, which he ran down for us in a wide-ranging chat.
50 Year Trip
The 50 Year Trip live album, filmed in Colorado and documenting Fogerty's most recent live show focusing on 1969 (when Creedence Clearwater Revival released three studio albums and performed at the inaugural Woodstock Music and Arts Fair), comes out Nov. 8. A film of the same show, featuring archival footage and additional commentary by Fogerty, screens on Nov. 11 with Fathom Events. Fogerty credits his wife, Julie, with both the concept of the show and the decision to document it.
A New Perspective
"I'm kind of a musician who just sings my songs, and I'm happy as a clam if you just give me my guitar and a little time to practice," Fogerty says with a laugh. "Julie saw something more there, though. I was like, 'Does the world really need another concert film' but she was saying, 'John, this is show is really good.' I didn't have the same perspective she does. It wasn't until watched it and listened to it that I got it. It's more than just a guy singing some songs, y'know?"
Viva Las Vegas
Fogerty will be returning to Las Vegas to continue his residency at the Wynn, with six shows starting Nov. 6. On Veterans Day (Nov. 11) he'll be on hand for the dedication of the Proud Mary John Fogerty Container Home at the Veterans Village there, which was built using the donation of his Woodstock 50 fee after the planned August anniversary concert was canceled.
"When the Woodstock 50 thing was finally, truly canceled we were informed that the artists get to keep the money they were paid," Fogerty says. "Someone was interviewing me, I think that day, and I said, 'Well, I come from a generation where you kind of don't get paid for doing nothing. I'll probably donate this money to veterans, maybe.' That was the first thing I thought of, because it's a passionate cause with me. It came out of me innocently enough, but happily I'm following through and we're getting it done. It's cool to be able to do something like that."
Fogerty, by the way, is still disappointed that Woodstock 50 did not come to fruition — but not necessarily surprised. "We did that (announcement) event at Electric Lady Studios, and it was a fun environment and I was looking forward to the actual concert happening," Fogerty recalls. "But I know I left there with that sense of, 'Wow, it seems a little scattered' — or maybe shaky is a better word. Then as time went on and (Michael Lang) was protesting against the wind when everybody else was seeing the wind, that became troubling. It was just kind of strange, but I was disappointed that it didn't come off."
"Creedence Was On Fire"
Fogerty was, however, pleased that Creedence's Woodstock set finally saw, after a long absence, the light of day, both on its own and as part of the Woodstock — Back to the Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience collections. "Y'know, I thought we killed it at Woodstock. Creedence was on fire," Fogerty remembers. "Unfortunately, the audience was asleep, mostly. We woke them up by the time our 50 minutes or so was up. I always used to say we warmed them up for Janis (Joplin)." That, however, is what kept Fogerty from signing off on releases of any audio and visual footage from the festival.
"I just thought, 'Why do I want to show an audience where we're struggling to get noticed' sort of thing," he explains. "It didn't feel all that successful, and that was my reason for not being in the movie initially." Time has, of course, softened his perspective.
"Looking back, Jimi (Hendrix) played to, like, 30,000 out of 500,000 and nobody really worried that there wasn't an audience there," Fogerty says. "So I guess in 100 years, when it all sorts of becomes equal, I'm glad there is a record of it, for sure."
After taking his 50 Year Trip, Fogerty says he's now ready to make some new music — his first since 2013's Wrote a Song For Everyone and his first of all-new songs since 2007's Revival. "I'm very much working on new songs and trying to find the right musicians who really do what I'm trying to do," he explains. "It's a process. I'm getting very antsy about not having done it this year, although apparently I've had some distractions here to keep me busy. I don't quite have the urgency I had in 1969; I've got a family and a beautiful wife and those things sort of have the priorities. But I sure want to get this rolling, I really do."